Chinna Gowda Vs. State of Mysore
 INSC 170 (27 April 1962)
Criminal Trial-Approver-Corroboration ofRetracted
confessions of co-accused-When can be used as corroboration.
The appellants were convicted of murder. The
substantial evidence on which the conviction rested was the evidence of an
approver and the confessions of two co accused.
Held, that the conviction of the appellants
could not be sustained. Though there is no bar for a conviction being based
upon the evidence of an approver alone, as a matter of prudence the courts
always require that such evidence should be corroborated in material
particulars. The need for corroboration is all the greater in a case like the
present where the approver, apart, from being of bad character, could not be
said to be a man of truth since he had resiled from his confession before the Committing Court. The retracted confessions of the co-accused in the present case could not
be safely relied upon for corroborating the approver. The confession of an
accomplice which cannot be tested by crossexamination is a very weak type of
evidence. Even if some weight could be attached to confessions when made by two
or more accomplices independently of each other implicating a particular
accused the confessions in the present case were not such as could be taken as
good corroboration of the approver.
Bhuboni Sahu v. The King  L.R. 76 I. A.
147 and Kashmira Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh  S.C.R. 526, relied on.
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal
Appeal Nos, 172 & 173 of 1961.
Appeals by special leave from the judgment
an, order dated July 7, 1961 of the Mysore-High Court in Criminal Appeals Nos.
352 and 355 of 1959 and Criminal Referred Case No. 25 of 1959.
518 N. H. Hingorani, for the appellants.
B. R. Iyengar and R. H. Dhebar, for the
1962. April 27. The Judgment of the Court was
delivered by MUDHOLKAR, J.-The appellant, China Gowda, was tried along with six
other persons for committing the murder of an entire family consisting of eight
persons on the night intervening the 12th and 13th February, 1958, in Handigodu
hamlet of the village Viavalli. The learned Sessions Judge convicted every one
of them under a. 302, Indian Penal Code, and sentenced each of them to death.
In appeal, the accused No. 2, Sbivappa Naika and accused No. 7, Gunde Gowda
were acquitted. The appeals of the remaining accused persons were dismissed.
The High Court, however, confirmed the conviction and sentences only of the
appellant Chinna Gowda and of Rame Gowda, appellant in Criminal Appeals Nos.
172 and 173 of 1961 and while affirming the conviction of the other three
accused commuted the death sentences passed against them to imprisonment for
life. The. appellants in the two appeals were granted special leave by this
Court under Art.
136 of the Constitution and that is how the
appeals are now before us.
The facts as alleged by the prosecution are
The deceased, Mariappa Gowda took up
residence in Handigodu about eight or ten years prior to the murder. He was an
industrious and thrifty person and soon became very prosperous. This aroused
the envy and jealousy of the appellant, Chinna Gowda. In the course of years,
numerous disputes over the boundaries of fields, trespasses on fields, the flow
of water and so on arose between the two of them. For some time prior to the
519 murders, the relationship between Mariappa Gowda (deceased) and the
appellant as well as Rame Gowda, the appellant in the other appeal, became very
strained. It may be mentioned that Rame Gowds was actually living with Mariappa
Gowda for some time and Mariappa Gowda leased out some lands to him.
Shortly thereafter, both of them fell out and
Mariappa Gowda was anxious to evict Rame Gowda, from the leased lands.
Mariappa Gowda was, therefore, reluctant to
issue receipts for rent paid by Rame Gowda, to him. This annoyed the latter.
Eventually, however, on the intervention of Chandiah Hegde, P. W. 67, Mariappa
Gowda passed a receipt in favour of Rame Gowda. To his surprise, Rame Gowda,
however, found that the receipt contained false recitals to the effect that he
had surrendered the leased land to Mariyappa Gowda. He, therefore, complained
about this to Chandiah who promised to settle the matter. In the meanwhile,
Rame Gowda's anger increased. One day, he actually stopped the bullock cart of
Mariappa and challenged him to try and evict him from the. leased lands.
Sometime thereafter he complained to one Singappagowda that Mariappa had
cheated him and said "you will see what I will do to him in a few
days." According to the prosecution, the remaining accused were the
friends of the appellant, Chinna Gowda but it is not suggested that they had
any personal grievance against Mariappa Gowda.
It is common ground that Mariappa's house is
3ituated about a furlong and a half of the house of Chinn& Gowda and that
no other house than Chinna Gowda's is nearer Mariappa's house. Mariappa lived
there with his wife Bellamma and six children. Since he was living in an isolated
place, he bad kept a dog. He also used to keep a light burning outside his
house. Further, he had a gun which was usually kept loaded in the house. Few
days 520 before the incident, the dog had died but the cause of the death of
the dog is not known.
Between 6.30 and 7.00 a.m. on the morning of
February 13,1958, P.W. 12 Narayan of Handigodu who was employed as a labourer
by Mariappa Gowda, went, as usual, to his master's house. He was horrified to
find that all the doors of the house were open and the inmates of the house
were lying on their beds in pools of blood, having been done to death by
someone. Thereupon he went to the house of one Harithal Chandegowda, P.W. 31,
and informed him of what he had seen.
Both of them along with another man proceeded
to the village Handigodu. Eventually, the first information was lodged with the
police who commenced investigation. After investigation, the seven accused
persons and P.W. 40, Venkappa Naika, who later turned an approver in the case,
were arrested in connection with the murders. During the course of the
investigation, P.W. 40, Venkappa Naika, accused No. 3 Manjappa Gowda, and
accused No. 4, Manjappa Naika, made confessions. Venkappa Naika was tendered, a
conditional pardon on his agreeing to' give evidence on behalf of the
prosecution. At the committal stage, all the three persons retracted their
confessions. However, all the alleged participants in the crime, except
Venkappa Naika, were sent up for trial and were tried by the Additional
Sessions Judge, Chikmagalur.
At that trial Venkappa Naika gave evidence
for the prosecution on the lines of his confession, saying that he had
retracted the concessions at the commital stage as the appellant, Chinna Gowda
had threatened to kill him. The learned Additional Sessions Judge, relying
mainly on the evidence of the appover, as corroborated by the retracted
confessions of two of the amused persons, convicted sad sentenced all the
accused persons. as already 521 stated. In addition to the evidence of the
approver, the prosecution has relied upon the evidence of two witnesses, P.W.
16, Dugamma, a neigbbour of Chinna Gowda and. P.W. 59 Mariappa, son of Rame
Gowda, an agricultural servant of Chinna Gowda. The learned Additional Sessions
Judge, as well as the High Court, believed their evidence and regarded it as
affording some corroboration to the evidence of the approver. The prosecution
further relied upon the fact that just prior to the date of the murders,
Chinn& Gowda, who was heavily pressed for money, had arranged to obtain a
loan of Rs. 600/for one T. Shivaiah alias T. Shivaswamy, P.W. 75, who had
agreed to advance it to him on February 13, 1958.
Inspite of T. Shivaiah agreeing to advance
the loan, China Gowda did not go to his house on the appointed day. The suggestion
is that after committing the murders, all the accused persons looted the cash
and jewellery found in that house and the cash was retained by China Gowda with
himself, Fi. nally, the courts below have relied upon the circumstance that the
accused person, in particular the appellants in the two appeals before us, did
not, like other innocent villagers, go to make enquiry about the incident or go
to the hospital where the dead bodies were taken.
The evidence of P.W. 16, Duggamma and that of
P.W. 59, Mariayappa does not afford corroboration to the evidence of the
approver on material particulars and in fact two of the statements made by the
latter contradict the evidence of the approver on some important points. The
substantial material on which the case rests is thus the evidence of the
approver and the retracted confessions of two of the accused persons.
The question, therefore, is whether
conviction of the appellants could be sustained on the basis of this material.
There is no doubt that s, 133 of the 522
Evidence Act does not debar the court from basing the conviction of an accused
person on the evidence of the approver alone but as has been observed in a
large number of cases, including the decision of the Privy Council in Bhuboni
Sahu v. The King (1) the Courts, as a matter of prudence, always require that
the evidence of the approver should be corroborated in material particulars.
This rule has been founded on s. 114(b) of the Evidence Act which enables the
Court to presume that an accomplice is not worthy of credit unless he is
corroborated in material particulars, The need for such corroboration would be
all the more greater where, as here, the approver, apart from being a person of
bad character by reason of his participation in a heinous crime, cannot be said
to be a man of truth since he had refiled from his confession before the
committing magistrate. This circumstance emphasizes, if emphasis was necessary,
the need for requiring corroboration to his evidence in material particulars.
The substance of the evidence of the
approver, Venkappa Naika, is this. On the day prior to the incident. the
appellant Chinna Gowda met him at Thyavananda Angadi when both of them were
returning to their village from Sringeri.
Venkappa Naika, it may be mentioned, is a
Chinna Gowda asked him whether he had any
arrack' available and upon Venkappa Naika answering in the affirmative, Chinna
Gowda gave him Rs. 5/and asked him to take two bottles of arrack to his house
the next evening as there was a party at his house. Accordingly', on the next
day, i.e., on the day of the incident, Venkappa Naika went there in the evening
carrying with him two bottles of arrack. He did not see Chinna Gowda but saw
Manjappa Gowda, accused No. 3, grooming two bullocks in front of the house. He,
therefore, (1) (1949) L.R. 76 I.A. 147.
523 enquired of him where Chinna Gowda was.
On being told by Manjappa Gowda to go to the area garden where Chinna Gowda
would shortly be going, Venkappa Naika went there. He noticed three of the
accused persons, Shivappa Naika, Rame Gowda (appellant in the other appeal) and
Gunde Gowda sitting under a jack fruit tree. A little later Manjappa Naika who
is accused No. 4 came there and was followed shortly after by Chinna Gowda and
Ramappa Naika who is accused No. 5 in the case and Manijappa Gowda. The latter
brought 'rotti' and chicken and curry. Thereafter, all the persons present were
served with arrack. Then they had a meal consisting of chicken curry and rotti
which was served by the Manjappa Gowda. After finishing their meals they again
had a round of arrack. While they were having arrack, Chinna Gowda said.
"Handi godu Mariappa Gowda is harassing me. We must go and finish him
today". Thereupon, Shivappa Naika said, "'work must be done carefully.
Whatever punishment may be meted out., you should not open your mouth. I am
there to see to the rest." After that, China Gowda took Shivappa to his
house and left him, there and returned alone to the garden. By that time it was
All of them then got up and at the instance
of Chinna Gowda went to the house of the deceased Mariappa Gowda. China Gowda,
Manjappa Gowda, Manjappa Naika, Rame Gowda and the approver, Venkappa Naika,
each had a chopper with him. On the way, Chinna Gowda observed "We should
not leave even a' worm. You must do the work carefully." On reaching the
house of Mariappa Gowda they noticed a bedlamp burning on the Jagali, which was
put out by Chinna Gowda. He, as well as Rame Gowda, had torches with them and
they, flashed them now and again. Then Rame Gowda struck on the neck of
Mariappa Gowda who was, 524 sleeping on the jagali, with-the chopper in his
Chinna Gowda dealt a similar blow on the neck
of Bellamma who was sleeping close to Mariappa. The approver, himself struck
Bellamma on her head. Rame Gowda next struck a male child on his neck. with his
chopper. It appears that the others were just looking on. Chinna Gowda looking
at Manjappa Naika said, "Why are you looking on, fool ?" Whereupon
that person struck on the neck of Gunda, the eldest son of Mariappa Gowda with
his chopper. Thereafter, Cbinna Gowda, Manjappa Gowda and Rame Gowda went
inside the house and murdered the four children of Mariappa Gowda who were
sleeping there. Then Chinna Gowda re-lighted the bed lamp which had been blown
out earlier, took out the bunch of keys from the waist of Mariappa Gowda,
opened the lock of one of the rooms of the house and took out from it a trunk.
He opened the lock of the trunk. This trunk
contained a gold chain, a pair of bugudis, three gold rings and one gold
flower. It also contained two bundles of. currency notes.
Chinna Gowda took possession of all these
articles. In the meanwhile Rame Gowda removed the gold ear-rings from the ears
of Bellamma as well as removed her 'manisara' which she was wearing on her neck
and handed them over to Chinna Gowda. Chinna Gowda wrapped up the jewellery in
a towel and handed it over to Ramappa Naika but he kept the currency notes with
himself Thereafter the party left the house of Mariappa. They went to a nala
nearby and washed their hands as well as the choppers. On their way back to the
house of Chinna Gowda; the latter said, "Let the commotion be over.
Thereafter let us distribute the gold and
the, money. Let no one demand it now. There is Shivappa Naika. We ,shall
distribute it." Thereupon Manjappa Naika, Rame Gowda and Gunde Gowda went
to their respective houses while Chinna Gowda, Manjappa 525 Gowda and Ramappa
Naika, went to the house of Chinna Gowda.
The approver went along with. them. After
reaching the house, Chinna Gowda took the jewellery from Ramappa Naika which he
kept inside the house. Chinna Gowda gave the approver a 'kambal' and asked him
to sleep on the jagali. He, therefore, slept there along with Majappa Gowda and
Manjappa Naika while Chinna morning, the approver left Chinna Godwa's house and
went to his own house.
What is first to be considered is the
evidence of P. W. 16, Duggamma and that of P. W. 59, Maryappa, sun of Ramae
We have already indicated that it does not
afford corroboration to the evidence of the approver. The former stated in his
evidence that just when she was going to bed she heard Ramappa Naika saying,
"Torch light fell." At that time, Chinna Gowda and.Manjappa Gowda
were with him and all the three of them were on the jagali. There is no
reference whatsoever to the flashing of the torch in theevidence of the
approver. All that could be said is that there is perhaps a partial
corroboration to the statement of the approver that while some of the
participants in the crime were sitting in the arena garden early in the
evening, Chinn& Gowda and Rammappa Naika came there together and were
followed shortly after by Manjappa Gowda. But much importance cannot be
attached to a partial corroboration. Later in her evidence, Daggamma stated
that she woke up during the night and noticed torch light being flashed on her
Just then Chinna Gowda came near the jagali.
Thereupon she asked ,,who is it". On that, Chinna Gowda said: ",No
Have you not got sleep. Sleep on." Now,
according to the approver, he was accompanying Chinna Gowda at that time, but
there is no reference whatsoever to the incident in his evidence, 526 In the
circumstances, it cannot afford any corroboration to any part of the evidence
of the approver.
Now, coming to the evidence of P. W. 59,
Maryappa, son of Rame Gowda, who was a servant of Chinna Gowda, what he says is
that on the evening of the date of the incident, the approver, Venkappa Naika
came to his master's house and asked Manjappa Gowda where the appellant Chinna
Thereupon Manjappa Gowda told him that Chinna
Gowda was not at home, and perhaps had gone somewhere. After hearing this,
Venkappa Naika went towards the garden at about 9.00 or 9.30 p.m. While the witness
was sitting on his bed on the jagali of Chinna'Gowda's house, Chinna Gowda and
Ramappa Naika came to the house and had their meals. Thereafter Chinna Gowda,
Manjappa Gowda and Ramappa Naika sat talking on the jagali. When they were
chatting he saw a torch lighting flashed on a tree near the house. Thereafter,
all these three persons got up saying that they should go to the garden and
accordingly went there. Five. or ton Minutes later, they came back to the
house. Chinna Gowda warned the witness not to mention to anyone about the
flashing of the torch. The witness then went to sleep and, got up at 6.00 or
6.30 a. m. He then found Chinna Gowda and Ramappa Naika still in bed on the
Instead of affording any corroboration to the
evidence of the approver, the evidence of this witness contradicts the approver
on several points. Now according to the approver, he went to the garden of
being told by Manjappa Gowda to do so, but that is not what the witness says.
According to the witness, Chinna Gowda and Ramappa Naika had their food in the
house and thereafter, after the torch light was flashed, they went inside the
According to the approver, all the
participants in the crime has barrack as well as 527 chicken curry and
"rotti" in the garden, that the whole party got up at mid-night,
Chinna Gowda returned to the house with Shivappa, then came back to the garden
after leaving him and then they all went towards the house of the deceased,
Mariappa Gowda. According to the witness, not only Chinna Gowda and Ramappa
Naika had their meals in the house but that they returned to the jagali five or
ten minutes after they went to the garden and it was then 9.30 p.m. This in
wholly inconsistent with an important part of the story as narrated by the approver.
Finally, while, according to the approver, Chinna Gowda slept inside the house
on the night in question, the witness says that he slept on the jagali.
Considering, therefore, the evidence of the witness as a whole, it must be said
that far from affording corroboration to the evidence of the approver on
material particulars, it contradicts the evidence of the approver at least with
respect to one fact which is material and that is the entire party leaving the
garden at midnight for the house of Mariappa Gowda. If the evidence of the
witness is true it would seem that Chinna Gowda, instead of going to the house
of Mariappa Gowda, along with others returned to his house and slept on his
jagali. For, he does not say that after coming back from the garden-at 9.30
p.m., Chinna Gowda again went there. No doubt, the approver said that before
going to the house of Mariappa, Chinna Gowda went with Shivappa to his house
and then returned immediately. But according to him it was at midnight and not
at 9.30 p.m. Thus, far from corroborating the evidence of the approver in so
far as the participation of the appellant Chinna Gowda is concerned, the
evidence of this witness tends to contradict it.
Then there is the corroboration, said to be
afforded by the retracted concessions of the accused Manjappa Gowda and
Manjappa Naika. We have not been taken through the confessions of these 528 two
persons but we will assume that these two persons tell the same story as the
approver but the question is whether the confessions can safely be relied upon
as affording corroboration to the evidence of the approver.
Since the appellants and the Confessing
accused persons, Manjappa Gowda and Manjappa Naika were tried jointly for the
same series of offences, their confessions can be used against the appellants
under s. 30 of the Evidence Act. But a confession cannot be regarded as a piece
of satisfactory evidence because it is not made in the presence of the person
or persons whom it incriminates and consequently cannot be tested by cross-examination.
A confession, therefore, is a much weaker type of evidence than the evidence of
the approver which is not subject to such an infirmity. No doubt, by virtue of
s. 30 they can, as pointed out in Bhuboni gahu's case ( cit. sup.) can be taken
into consideration by the 'Court and thereby treated as evidence upon which the
court may act, but s. 30 does not say that the confession amounts to proof. In
Kashmira Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh (1) this Court has approved of the
decision in Bhuboni Sahu's case and observed :
"But cases may arise where the judge is
not prepared to act on the other evidence as it stands even though, if
believed, it would be sufficient to sustain a conviction. In such an event the
judge may call in aid the confession and use it to lend assurance to the other
evidence and thus fortify himself in believing what without the aid of the
confession he would not be prepared to accept." After making these
observations this Court has pointed out the danger of using the testimony of
one accomplice to corroborate another because (1)  S. C. R. 526, 530.
529 for one thing evidence consisting of the
confession of the accomplice cannot be tested by cross. examination.
Relying upon illustration (b) to a. 114 of
the Evidence Act it was contended on behalf of the Crown in Bhuboni Sahu's case
(1) that where several participants in the alleged crime have in their separate
confession implicated a particular person as being the culprit and there was no
previous concert amongst the confessing accused, there was no reason to reject
their confessions and that the evidence of the approver which, as here, was the
primary evidence in the case should be regarded as being sufficiently
corroborated by such confessions. The argument was rejected by the Privy
Council on several grounds. One of the grounds was that the confessing accused
had been produced before the magistrate together for recording their
confessions. Then they pointed out at p. 157 :
"................ whilst appreciating
that the coincidence of a number of confessions of coaccused all implicating
the particular accused, given independently, and without an opportunity of
previous consent , might be entitled to great weight (their Lordships) would
nevertheless observe that courts should be slow to depart from the rule of
prudence, based on long experience, which requires som e independent evidence
implicating the particular accused. The danger of acting on accomplice evidence
is not merely that the accomplice is on his own admission a man of bad
character who took part in the offence and afterwards to save himself betrayed
his former associates, and who has placed himself in a position in which he can
hardly fail to have a strong bias in favour of the prosecution; the real (1)
(1949) L.R. 76 I.A. 147.
530 danger is that be is telling a story
which in its general outline is true, and it is easy for him to work into the
story matter which is untrue. He may implicate ten people in an offence, and
the story may be true in all its details as to eight of them, but untrue as to
the other two, whose names have been introduced because they are enemies of the
approver." It would appear from the record of these appeals that the
confessions of the approver and Manjappa Gowda were recorded on the same day,
i.e., March 27, 1958 by Mr. V. Revanna, Magistrate, First Class, Chikamagalur,
while that of Manjappa Naika was recorded by another Magistrate on March 29,
1958. Mr. V. Revanna was examined as P. W. 41 in this case and he has stated in
evidence that he received a requisition from the Deputy Superintendent of
Police, Mr. Ramaswamy on March 22, 1958 for recording the confessional
statements of Manjappa Gowda and the approver, Venkappa Naika and those persons
were produced before him on that very day. He informed them that thereafter they
would be removed from the police custody and then he remanded them to the
judicial look-up till March 24, 1958. He also told them that they were not
bound to make any confessions. As, however, he was on casual leave from March
23, 1958 to March 26, 1958, they were produced before him on March 27, 1958.
It would appear that these persons were in
the police lockup since their arrest till March 22, 1958 and were actually
brought together to the magistrate's court. There is nothing to show that they
were kept separate. In the circumstances there is no guarantee that the
accounts which they have given of the incident in their confessions were
independent and without previous concert. Therefore, apart from being a very weak
type of evidence, there is an 531 absence of intrinsic evidence in the
confession of Manjappa Gowda which would go to provide an assurance that it is
true in all its details. It may be that the general outline of the incident
given by Manjappa Gowda is correct but insofar as it iraplicates the appellants
before us there is no guarantee about its truth. We cannot, therefore, regard
that confession as affording corroboration to the evidence of the approver.
The defect which we have pointed out with
respect to the confession of Manjappa Gowda does not appear to be present in
Manjappa Naika's confession. He was first produced before a magistrate for
recording his confession on March 27, 1958, and was then remanded by the
Magistrate to judicial custody till March 29, 1958. It is possible that since
this persons was arrested on March 15, 1958 by which date the approver and the
other accused including Manjappa Gowda had presumably been arrested, they may
have been in police custody together for some time. It is, however, not clear
from. the record whether they were kept in custody at the same place. The
circumstance appearing in the Privy Council case may , therefore, not be
present in so far as he is concerned. All the same we find that there is one
grave infirmity in his confession. The record does not show that when Manjappa
Naika was produced before a magistrate on March 27, 1958, and remanded by him
to the judicial custody he was given due warning by the magistrate and told
that he should reflect whether he should make any confession at all.
In his examination as witness No. 44, the
magistrate, Mr. K. S. Malle Gowda has stated as follows :
"On March 27, 1958, the Deputy
Superintendent of police produced before me AManjappa Naika and gave me the
requisition, Ext. P. 23, for recording his statement under 532 s. 164, Cr. P.C.
On that, I remanded A-4 Manjappa Naika to the judicial custody till March 29,
1958. Accordingly, on March 29, 1958, he was produced before me in my Cour t
hall by the Sub-Jail authority at about 11.00 a.m." Thereafter he said
that he asked the usual preliminary questions and then recorded the statement
of Manjappa Naika.
No doubt, it would appear that on March 29,
1958, the Magistrate asked Manjappa Naika whether he wanted time to think over
the matter to which the latter replied: "write", presumably meaning
thereby that he did not want time. That, however, is not sufficient compliance
with the requirements of law. It has been pointed out by this Court in Sarwan
Singh v. The State of Punjab (1) that when accused person is produced by the
investigating officer before the Magistrate for recording his confession, it is
of the utmost importance that his mind should be completely free from any
possible influence of the police and he must be send to Jail custody and given
adequate time to consider whether he should make a confession at all. It is
true that here Manjappa Naika, after being produced by the Investigating
officer before a Magistrate for recording his confession the latter remanded him
to the judicial custody upto March 29, 1958, i. e., for two days but it was
necessary for the magistrate to make it clear to Manjappa Naika that he was not
bound to make the confession and that if he made the confession, it was likely
to be used against him and that, therefore, he should reflect whether he should
make any confession at all. It does not appear from the evidence of the
Magistrate Mr. Malle Gowda that he brought these important matters to the
notice of Manjappa Naika while remanding him to the (1)  S.C.R. 953.
533 judicial custody. In the circumstance,
the confession is not one upon which a Court can properly act.
That leaves for consideration only one
circumstance on which the High Court has relied and that is the failure of the
appellant, Chinna Gowda, not to go to the house of T.
Shiviah alias T. Shivaswamy, P. W. 75, for
receiving a loan on February 13, 1958. It is said that he did not do so because
he had with him the booty collected from the house of the deceased Mariappa
Gowda and, therefore, he no longer stood in need of raising the loan. There may
be various reasons why Chinna Gowda did not keep his appointment but even
assuming that he had come by some money and that this happened as a result of
the incident which took place on the night between February 12 and 13, 1958, it
would not be legitimate to conclude that he had himself participated in the
Thus we are left only with the evidence of
the approver. As already pointed out, his evidence suffers from two infirmities:
on his own showing be is a man of bad character, and further in the court of
the committing magistrate he went back upon his confession before Mr. Revanna,
Magistrate First Class. Again he is a person whose business is to manufacture
illicit liquor. Thus, apart from participating in the heinous crimes which were
perpetrated on the night in question, he has been leading a life of a
lawbreaker. His evidence, standing by itself, cannot, therefore, carry
conviction. Indeed neither the Sessions Judge nor the learned Judges of the
High Court regarded his evidence as bring sufficient to justify conviction of
the various accused persons. In the circumstances we must hold that his
evidence cannot safely be regarded as the sole basis for resting the conviction
of the two appellants before us.
534 We therefore, allow each of the two
appeals, set aside the conviction and sentences passed against the appellants
and direct that they be set at, liberty.